There is a current offer to earn 2,500 Air Miles points that expires on
April 30, 2014 on the American Express AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card. The highlights of the credit card are as follows:
- $299 annual fee
- $50 for supplementary cardholders
- Earn 2,500 points (usually 1,450 points) when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months
- Earn 1 points for every $10 spent at Air Miles Sponsors, grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores in Canada
- Earn 1 point for every $15 spent on all other purchases
- Receive 4 complimentary visits per year to Priority Pass Worldwide Lounges
- Receive a Companion Flight Benefit
- Access to FlexFly Redemption
- Exclusive Air Miles Concierge Service
- Waived Air Miles flight administration fee
- Option to redeem points for business class seats
- Access to the Toronto Pearson Priority Security Lane, Toronto Pearson Priority Limo and Taxi Lanes
This higher than usual (1,450 points) sign up bonus points makes this credit card extremely attractive right now. When leveraged accordingly, the 2,500 points can be used on two short haul flights. The short haul flights will easily cover the $299 annual fee, but the question is whether it is worth keeping this card beyond the first year.
The main value that you get for retaining this card comes the last seven items listed in the highlights above. Below, I will discuss the items that has value to help justify the $299 annual fee.
First of all, with regards to the Companion Flight Benefit. Once a year, if you redeem for a round-trip economy flight (maximum of 1,450 reward miles) within the Air Miles Flight Program, you can receive a Companion Flight for your companion to travel with you for the same itinerary. That alone can be worth close to the $299 annual fee. Keep in mind that we have to pay applicable taxes and fuel surcharges for reward flights on Air Miles.
The four complimentary visits per year to Priority Pass Worldwide Lounges definitely has value if you can take advantage of all the passes.
The Air Miles FlexFly Redemption gives you additional access to airlines and destinations, departure times, and economy, business and first class seats on flights not available within the regular Air Miles Flight Program. That can be useful if you can take advantage of the additional access.
Waiving the flight administration fee for a reward flight is always a plus. Furthermore, having this credit card gives you the option of redeeming your points to pay for taxes and fuel surcharges on a reward flight. These two options combined means that you can potentially get your ticket completely for free using your points. However, this would only be useful if you have a lot of points to burn.
Keep in mind that accounts need to be active once every 24 months to a maximum of 5 years. So remember to use your points before they expire within the 5 year absolute limit.
Message to American Express: Great move by increasing the sign up bonus. It makes this credit card very attractive and lessens the pain on the $299 annual fee.
Message to Air Miles: Bad move implementing the 5 year absolute rule. This will always be a deal breaker for me in terms of considering Air Miles a top tier loyalty program. Instead, I would suggest reducing the 24 months rule down to 12 months and then cancelling the 5 year maximum rule.